Thursday, November 4, 2010

Show #59 "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" at ACT Theatre

About 5 years ago, my younger son David and I decided to become season subscribers for Seattle's ACT Theatre. Older brother Tim had just gone off to college, so this would be a perfect Mother/Son sort of activity that David and I wanted to try. After all, how many moms have the pleasure of hearing her high school-aged son suggest, "Mom, let's buy season tickets to a theatre this year"?

The first show of that season was Martin McDonagh's "The Pillowman." For months (even a couple of years) afterward, David couldn't stop talking about that play. It was brilliant. It was funny. It was dark and macabre. We loved it.

Now, ACT Theatre is re-visiting Ireland with another of McDonagh's scripts, "The Lieutenant of Inishmore." This, too, is dark and macabre. It's also brilliant and funny. But instead of taking place in a fictional totalitarian society, this takes place on the island of Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands off Ireland's West Coast.

This is a story set within the violence and rebellion in Northern Ireland during the latter half of the 20th century. Our "hero" is a lieutenant in the INLA, a splinter group off of the better known (to us Americans) IRA. Padraic oozes anger from every pore of his painfully strong body. He fights for a free Ireland, one that is free from oppressors and criminals.

When we first meet Padraic, he is torturing an accused drug dealer. We are treated first-hand to simulated torture that most of us are unaccustomed to viewing on a mainstage in a respectable part of downtown Seattle.

Get used to it.

There's more.

Well....there's no use going on in detail about the other acts of simulated violence. Just suffice to say it wasn't an evening with Rodgers and Hammerstein. It was closer to an evening with the Cohen Brothers or Quentin Tarantino.

The audience hooted and laughed their way through this story of blood, revenge and the love of a kitty cat. (Oh, did I mention that this play is actually a comedy?) Randy and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. With the exception of a few elements in the show that were "over-produced," it was a brilliant piece of work.

What the most amazing take-away I got from this play was that, in the midst of all the violence, fear and bloodshed, I found myself cherishing the people and animals in my life a bit more.

I found myself wishing that David (who is now away at college himself) had been there to enjoy this show with me. I found myself wishing that Tim could have been there, too. They both would have loved it.

But most important, the first thing I did after returning home, was to hug my kitty Penny. If you get a chance to see "Inishmore," you'll understand why.

Photo courtesy of ACT Theatre and photographer Chris Bennion

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